For the last few years now, the host of the best dance parties in the world has been a guy by the name of Greg Gillis. Known as Girl Talk, he’s blown up our understanding of what makes dance music great by taking all our collective musical memories and cuisinarting them into one crazy-nuts dance fiesta. The resulting experience sparks innumerable knowing smiles of recognition just as it compels you to wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care. Even though most mash-ups have a shelf life after which their novelty wanes, every one of Girl Talk’s *songs* still makes me want to dance on a moment’s notice.
My favorite Girl Talk story went down at the 2008 Lollapalooza, amidst a heat wave, a press of people, and an unexpected flurry of ice.As he was still on the ascent of his popularity, the Girl Talk show was slated for one of the side stages for the middle of the afternoon. Even prior to the start of the show, excitement had outstripped expectations as there were probably double the number of people that should have been around for the show. And then, mayhem. As the music began, hundreds of people rushed onto the stage for what I learned is a Girl Talk standard: rather than have performer look out at the crowd, stage melds with audience in one big dance party. Also unique amongst dance parties was the sound of laughter: as his songs twist and tweak the collective memories of all those there, you find yourself and those around you spontaneously giggling as Outkast, Vanilla Ice, YYYS, and Rhianna all throw a party in your head in the span of twenty seconds or so (as an example, see Wired’s deconstruction above).
But the best part of this Lollapalooza party occurred when a bunch of golf carts laden with ice tried to make their way through the crowd. As a side stage, it was positioned right off of the arterial path that you’d use to make your way from one end of the grounds to the other. But, with a few thousand more people than anyone expected, these ice trucks soon found their way bogged down in a mass of boogie-ing humanity. Instead of trying to barge their way through the crowd or calling security, or any number of other things that they would have done at pretty much any other show, the ice truck drivers decided, individually and simultaneously, to join the party. Just like the stage, soon the ice trucks were swarmed by people, dancing up and down all over anything in sight. Ice was flying, horns became an extra instrument, and everyone and everything within sight of the show became part of the party.
Here’s one of my favorite tracks of his. Later tonight, I’ll post “What’s It All About” as well, so you can follow along with the visual if you’d like to get a sense of how the madness happens.
Still Here, Girl Talk